There are times I've been somewhat of a curmudgeon when it comes to web standards but that doesn't mean I don't see the practicality and almost necessity of using them to develop websites. Every one I know who's in the web business has done their best to add XHTML/CSS to their skill sets and use these techniques to create new sites while adapting legacy projects.
In my experience, neither age or prior knowledge seems to be a huge factor in learning style sheets, anyone can do it. I've seen employees new to web development altogether breeze through web standards while experienced developers use the hunt-and-peek method in their brain while trying to imagine a world without tables (I have been and continue to be a member of the later group). In either case the methods are sound and the results live up to all the hype coming from web standards evangelism.
In short, web standards are good.
But it would seem that the message of code salvation has not reached the hearts of every web developer. In fact this treatise against web standards (discovered through The Return of Design) has been written in with such fervor that it seems more appropriate material for a rally at Nuremberg, not a messily software company website.
Here are some of my favorite quotes from Decloak's very informative tract on the evils of Cascading Style Sheets and the dangerous of CSS zealots who sacrifice goats to DIV tags at every sacred W3C gathering.
To make this even more fun, do your best to impersonate Republican National Convention Zell Miller while reading.
"...if it's one thing that full CSS isn't, it's simple as there is a considerable learning curve. And by the way, there is the actual implementation of full CSS, which is also complex. And full CSS has tons and tons of hacks and so-called work around just to get it to work right even in the latest browsers IE 6 and Netscape 7. And that's not even mentioning the Mac browser versions."
"Microsoft has a hard enough time trying to get their software to work and out the door, do you honestly think they are going to sit around waiting for the W3C committee to make up their minds on the next standard or regularly consult with any Mozilla programmers to make sure their's browser works with IE?"
"Microsoft will NEVER make their browser 100% W3C compliant as they always keep adding new features. In fact, all Microsoft's products are not 100% standards compliant because they will always have something to add to the latest product."
"CSS purists can kiss Apple's Safari browser goodbye to your list of compatible browsers as long as Steve Jobs is CEO of Apple. And you definitely can say "hasta la vista" to IE 7 as long as Mr. Bill and Mr. Ballmer are running the show."
"Futhermore, if your website get bigger, how are you going to remember precisely that this CSS style belongs to these set of pages but not those set of pages? Pretty soon you got this huge CSS style sheet that has these short semi-vague names describing every single thing in your entire website of which you have try to figure out which style means what and to which pages it will be applied to."
"Furthermore, CSS zealots have been predicting the future of CSS since the year 2000. And guess what, it's now 2004 and we are not a single step closer to CSS browser compliance than we were in 2000 with even the latest browsers Mozilla 1.x and IE 6. So after 4 or more years of preaching that CSS is the future, the future never gets here and it never will."
"And what about 2 months from now? Are you really going to remember which style that these pages are applied to? That 2-second change is now 2 hours re-familiarizing yourself which style belongs to which pages. Plus, you have to make sure that this style didn't change some other page you didn't want to."
Come to think of it, this sounds more like the hateful chatter of the Taliban to me sorry Senator Miller, my bad. Make sure you don't miss the pie chart used to disprove the myths of web standards superiority over techniques used by ancient cave dwellers in 1997.